Kaya Press authors ANELISE CHEN and Q.M. ZHANG come together to discuss trauma, memory and the writing. Both authors push the boundaries of genres with their hybrid and experimental text that refuse to be placed in simple categories such as memoir, novels, self-help and more.
Moderated by author, educator, and playwright Proshot Kalami.
Blending elements of self-help, memoir, and sports writing, ANELISE CHEN’s So Many Olympic Exertions is an experimental novel that perhaps most resembles what the ancient Greeks called hypomnemata, or “notes to the self” in the form of observations, reminders, and self-exhortations. Taken together, these notes constitute a personal handbook on “how to live” or perhaps more urgently “why to live,” a question the narrator, graduate student Athena Chen, desperately needs answering.
In Accomplice to Memory, Q.M. ZHANG tries to piece together the fractured mystery of her father’s exodus from China to the U.S. during the two decades of civil and world war leading up to the 1949 revolution. Part memoir, novel, and historical documentary, this hybrid text explores the silences and subterfuge of an immigrant parent, and the struggles of the second generation to understand the first. Mixing images and text in the manner of W.G. Sebald, Zhang blurs the boundary between fiction and nonfiction, memory and imagination, and the result is a literary page-turner of one woman racing against time to uncover and reimagine her family’s origin story.
Certain books were “banned in Boston” at least as far back as 1651, when one William Pynchon wrote a book criticizing Puritanism.